2014 Best Chicago Outdoor Dining Restaurants

by Amanda on August 17, 2014

Chicago Sidewalk Cafe Outdoor Dining

Of all the updates we’ve done over the years, I’d say that this one is typically one of my favorites.  For the past eight years, I have suggested that you (our loyal Chicago Home Partner family!) grab some friends, pack up the stroller, leash up your pups and get outside to enjoy some of the best al fresco dining that Chicago has to offer.

Al Fresco:  From the Italian word al fresco meaning “in the fresh air”.

Dining:  From the French worddiner meaning “to have dinner”.

Al Fresco Dining:  A tradition of eating outside during the summer.

Over the years, we have tried to provide you with our favorite destinations whether Northside, Southside, Westside or The Loop. Regardless of cuisine or location, we have strived to provide you with the best of the best, year after year.  That’s why this year we’ve searched through our archives, added in some new & are pleased to announce… The Chicago Home Partner Top 10 Al Fresco Restaurants!

This special 8th Edition of the Al Fresco Dining Guide is listed below with color commentary, links to Yelp review pages and which meal is best served at the establishment.  Where this list may be FAR from complete, you’re sure to find a new spot you haven’t tried yet that may quickly become a favorite.  We hope this helps you enjoy these final days of summer!  Remember… they’ll be gone before we know it.  So, get on out there!

The 2014 Chicago Home Partner Top 10

(Click on the title for a link to their Yelp! review page)

Gather’s4539 N. Lincoln Ave – Features a 40-seat, covered terrace in Lincoln Square features shareable dishes like a “Gathering Board” of charcuterie and pickled vegetables, to be accompanied by summery wine coolers served by the glass.

The Brixton – 5420 N. Clark St. – Long one of Andersonville’s most cherished patios, this backyard terrace (formerly Brasserie 54) provides a romantic and intimate setting under twinkling decorative lights.  There’s even a cozy upstairs with couches and a pool table if things get chilly outside.

Little Goat Diner 820 W. Randolph – If you can’t wait a month (or more) to get into Girl and the Goat, why not try this amazing offshoot across the street?  With amazing views and the culinary artistry of its sister – Little Goat is sure to impress with their all-day breakfast menu, fresh baked goodies and supper items like Kalbi Beef Ribs and Sweet and Sour Pork Chops.

Honey Butter Fried Chicken – 3361 N. Elston Ave. – As the name might suggest, “Honey Butter” is the key to what ails you at this Avondale newcomer.  At the suggestion of the waitress to “slather everything with honey butter” (yes including the FRIED chicken) foodies will go home with full bellies and smiles on their face.  A beautifully charming picnic table garden completes the dining experience.

The Boarding House – 720 N. Wells St. – Created from the imagination of Chicago wine hero Alpana Singh, (and Check Please! fame), the boarding house provides patrons with a wonderful wine list and great food to match.  Limited seating along Wells Street provides amazing people watching during the weekend so call ahead to reserve a spot!

Smoque BBQ – 3800 Pulaski –  Hands down the BEST barbecue in the city of Chicago, Smoque doesn’t waste your palate on tons of sauce, instead creating meaty BBQ dreams that melt in your mouth (can you tell we liked it!)  Pulled pork, ribs and our personal favorite the brisket are all smoked daily and ready for your dining pleasure.

Parson’s Chicken & Fish – 2952 W. Armitage – Another of the “picnic table garden” entries this year, Parson’s does an excellent job of providing comfort food in a laid back atmosphere.  Make sure to try the hush puppies, pimento toast, and save room for a piece of pie from Bang Bang bakery around the corner.

BellyQ – 1400 W. Randolph – An asian-fusion take on BBQ, this West Loop hotspot has two separate outdoor dining areas where patrons can enjoy beautiful views and people watching while sampling amazingly inspired dishes such as Korean short ribs, grilled octopus and goat milk feta pancakes.

The Monarch1745 W. North Ave. – The go-to spot in Wicker Park for brunch on the weekends and dinner any time you’re hungry!  Specials such as blueberry french toast, hanger steak and even duck confit dot the menu complimented by an amazing drink, wine and beer list.  The quaint patio seating list makes dining at The Monarch a treat with friends or date night.

Reno 2607 N. Milwaukee Ave. – 40 sidewalk seats make for an amazing afternoon of excellent pizza and hipster-watching at this Logan Square gem.  Their wood-fired pizzas are amazing and taste direct from Italy, especially the Paulina (pepperoni, jalepeno, pesto and mozzarella) and the Hang Ten (spicy coppa, red onion, grilled pineapple and mozzarella).

Click here for the 2013 list of outdoor dining restaurants

Click here for the 2012 list of outdoor dining restaurants



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